By Jitesh Shah , CEO, InterCall India
InterCall is a subsidiary of West Corporation. It is one of the leading conference and collaboration service provider globally.
Unified Communications (UC) has emerged as a disruptor of the collaborative communication technologies. The simple telephone conference call has evolved and placed a wide variety of conferencing and collaboration tools under one umbrella.
Audio conferencing will grow moderately with web conferencing expected to lead short-term growth. Video conferencing services will experience rapid adoption and lead growth in the longer term. The VC market is expected to grow from $146 million in 2013 to $299 million by 2018 in India. Video and its used cases will continue to gain traction in the enterprise space due to the opening up of customers' internal network, infrastructure policies, BYOD playing a much bigger role, proliferation of telecom in India and massive increase in the smart phone market in India. In the past cost has been an entry barrier for this market. With technology becoming more affordable and accessible now, this segment of UC will continue to see robust growth in the Indian market.
The year 2014 saw a wider acceptance of UC in the market, which resulted in midsize and large organizations adopting UC solutions. Companies started focusing on reducing their operational costs by decreasing infrastructure, communications and transportation expenses. Another phenomenon observed was the increased market acceptance of Google IT, which gained favour with small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, enterprise telephony is still not supported.
Organizations have also had to assess their UC strategy due to the impact of fast-growing trends such as BYOD presenting significant implications for security and regulations. According to a report by IDC, 60 percent of all surveyed organizations across APAC stated they have some kind of mobility policy to cater to BYOD.
In 2015, the UC market will continue to grow, as technology evolves and enterprises become more open to cloud-based UC solutions. InterCall sees the following trends shaping the UC landscape this year:
Cloud goes from strength to strength
The well entrenched technology of on-premise solutions for conferencing and collaboration has seen a serious challenge from cloud-based solutions. SMEs with multiple office locations prefer cloud-based solutions as they can be rolled out easily and are supported by the cloud provider's IT services. The key growth countries are India, Australia, South Korea and Singapore.According to IDC, within major industry verticals, cloud-based UC adoption continues to grow the fastest in retail, education, health care, hospitality and professional services.
Cloud is an attractive proposition to CIOs due to its seamless integration with existing infrastructure, rapid deployment, on-demand nature, the services being operating cost as opposed to capital cost, reduced IT administrative overheads and ability to counter technology obsolescence with constant updates.
Certain factors such as bandwidth demands and regulations have constrained the adoption of cloud-based UC solutions. However, we are seeing positive developments in these areas which promise to provide an impetus to growth of cloud-based UC solutions.
Putting a face to the voice
Audio minutes, are increasingly being replaced by video. Just like interviews, business leaders consider visual cues to be an important part of business communication to maintain face-to-face relationships with partners, suppliers and vendors. As the technology behind video conferencing continues to mature, data packets flow will improve. This has made video more feasible for conferencing. One-way or two-way video support for customer engagement of complex support issues is one of the key areas which would be impacted by this movement.
Ecosystems from Cisco, Microsoft and Google
Three of the most well-known names in information technology, Cisco, Google and Microsoft have a strong market presence in conferencing and collaboration services. IT managers are utilizing their ecosystems together for different functions and departments. Allowing the ecosystems to co-exist allows organizations to effectively "sweat" the existing assets and use their investments in legacy systems for a while longer or create effective phased migrations without significant user impact.Thus, the organizations can leverage on different benefits derived from each ecosystem.
Reduced restrictions and regulations in markets like India and China
Regulations surrounding telecommunications services and governance on voice-over-IP (VoIP) have hampered the entry of global service providers into countries like India and China. Regulatory bodies are embarking on extending telecom services licenses to qualified third-party IT service providers. Service providers now leverage on the existing infrastructure of telecom companies and provide services backed by high-level service level agreements (SLAs) to customers. We would see an increase in the establishment of joint ventures and strategic partnerships with local service providers, resulting in a larger market presence of global/regional service providers in these tightly-regulated countries.
Year 2014 saw UC technology exploring new areas and achieving new heights as it gained wider acceptance in the market. In 2015, advancements in UC solutions will offer even greater benefits to organizations, promising continued growth in its adoption, evolution and deployment. Easing of restrictions and building out of infrastructure in emerging markets such as India and China creates new and exciting avenues for growth.